March 30th, 2015
The Calculus of Hypocrisy: It’s Still a Lie Even If You Believe It
I don’t trust the Republican Party. This goes beyond disagreeing with them on every single policy position they hold. As a party, they’re deceitful, manipulative, and wholly disingenuous. It’s not even a question anymore; it’s verifiable fact. Their brand is badly damaged and is about to become completely unsalvageable.
I never bought into the post-modern notion of created reality, that all truth is subjective. In contrast, objective reality isn’t classified into strictly rigid forms Desecrates style. Objective reality doesn’t have to be something that’s true absolutely or universally only. That’s not to say there’s no such thing as a universal truth, but with our limited capacity for knowledge, finite perception, biases, and biological restrictions, having perfect knowledge is out of reach. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive toward truth. Something can be declared true or false based on a system of reason and use of fact-based evidence. It’s one of the hallmarks of the Scientific Method and a foundational principle of Western Civilization. Ideas and their subsequent implementation can be judged as better or worse using this standard. Without it, our biases, and superstitions remain unchallenged which in turn stifles progress.
To use a simple historical example: we must declare that Julius Caesar is dead. Was he a tyrant removed from power by a group of doomed idealists, or was he unjustly murdered by men wishing to hang on to their own power? Is it perhaps a little bit of both? An event’s historical significance is debatable; it’s why historians still have jobs, but certain immutable facts aren’t. Today, Ceasar is dead and while that might not seem like much, it’s an unspoken, mutually agreed upon starting point. That debate rests within a historical space and while it might be altered, enlarged, or constricted, it cannot run on indefinitely.
This is the rot within the Republican Party. Thanks to Karl Rove, the Architect, the GOP abandoned notions of objective reality in an effort to win elections. They’ve latched onto their own created delusion and show no signs of changing. If they can’t effectively message whatever reality they’re trying to create, then they simply change their position to be counter to the opposition. They’re not concerned with what’s actual. It’s about how they can bend actual to their will but their grip is weakening.
Though cynical and insidious, this strategy has worked so effectively that it won’t be easily abandoned. It created a path to power for Newt Gingrich to become Speaker of the House and propelled George W. Bush to the Oval Office twice. But like all things, this strategy was based on historical/cultural context that’s no longer relevant.
In 2004, the 9/11 Terrorist attacks were still fresh on everyone’s minds. The mainstream media wasn’t questioning the Bush Administration’s motives or evidence for going to war in Iraq. Gays were still a convenient moral scapegoat. The GOP was still trying to court Hispanic voters, the fastest growing voter demographic, instead of alienating them. But most importantly, social media hadn’t exploded in such a way to catch the GOP in every jackass thing they did.
It was a time when Bill O’Reilly said that loyal Americans needed to “Shut Up!” before questioning the Bush Administration’s policies on Iraq. Then, he proceeded to extrapolate that to everything the GOP did. Essentially saying that the Bush Administration was right because they did it and you shouldn’t question what they do . . . ever . . . to do so would be disloyal.
I wasn’t really shocked to hear the Republican National Committee had officially denounced all the NSA surveillance programs they put into place as “unconstitutional”. (Note: Bob Cesca has a takedown of the GOP’s hypocrisy well worth reading.) This is just another cynical attempt using the Karl Rove playbook to get single issue voters on their side, in this case, radical right Libertarians or far leftists so blinded to everything else that they’d actually support the GOP.
The GOP has already demonstrated they don’t really care about national security, turning tragedies into fake scandals. You can’t chant “Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!”, pretending to care about security for our Foreign Service personnel after you cut funding for embassy security. Your media arm, Fox News, doesn’t edit Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s response to make it look like she’s being callous when she’s, in fact, pointing out your own hypocrisy. You don’t get to say you’re “going to get to the bottom of this!” when you are the bottom of this!
However, it extends beyond obfuscation of the truth. They’ve embraced George Costanza’s motto: “It’s not a lie… If you believe it.” It’s humorous when a fictional character claims that as a truth, but when it’s the foundation for 1 of the 2 viable political parties in the most powerful nation the world has ever known, having cause for trepidation becomes a woefully inadequate response. On the borderline of sheer fucking terror is about the right setting.
What’s even more distressing is the Republican Party simply refuses to accept the harm that their delusional mentality is not only doing to themselves but to the rest of us as well. For better or worse, we have a two party system and with one party off in right wing, fantastical fatherland, we will never have an honest debate. In politics, it’s difficult, even in the most civil of times, to get close to an accurate accounting of any problem. And, in this hyper-partisan era, with one party given impunity to spout anything they want by a complicit corporate-owned media, along with an apathetic voting public, it’s no wonder change doesn’t come quickly or if it all. It’s incremental.
Just over a year ago, Gov. Jindal of Louisiana said that the GOP needs to “stop being the stupid party”. He said that they should end dumbed-down conservatism and, basically, needed to get better at delivering their message. Even the so-called voices of reasoning aren’t calling for a re-examination of these values. For them messaging and candidates is the problem, not the actual message itself.
Political messaging isn’t the GOP’s problem. They are, or were, before the public rift with the Tea Party faction, an extremely disciplined party. They have their own propaganda network, Fox News, and some of the most influential names in radio are conservatives. But, as Stringer Bell found out in Season 3 of The Wire, you can change the name of your product, hype it up, but inevitably your customer base will realize it’s inferior and go to your competition.
Revamping your message and picking candidates who can deliver busllshit with a little more finesse are short term solutions. The GOP is faced with long term demographic and policy problems that have no easy answers. So far, they show no signs of wanting to deal with them effectively. Even dumping in more money won’t help, especially if they’re fighting against the monster they created and depend on.
So, suddenly, declaring NSA spying “unconstitutional”, just like they did with ACA, another program based on something they created, isn’t going to help them win and neither will extensive gerrymandering House districts. Dismissing accusations of a war on women by introducing more anti-abortion measures won’t do it either. Using babies as props isn’t going to change anyone’s mind on regressive policy positions.
Then again, with the mainstream media’s obsession with jackass celebrities maybe the GOP will manage to sneak one in…
March 30th, 2015